Code of the District of Columbia

Chapter 23A. Autonomous Vehicles.


§ 50–2351. Definitions.

For the purposes of this chapter, the term:

(1) “Autonomous vehicle” means a vehicle capable of navigating District roadways and interpreting traffic-control devices without a driver actively operating any of the vehicle’s control systems. The term “autonomous vehicle” excludes a motor vehicle enabled with active safety systems or driver- assistance systems, including systems to provide electronic blind-spot assistance, crash avoidance, emergency braking, parking assistance, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assistance, lane-departure warning, or traffic-jam and queuing assistance, unless the system alone or in combination with other systems enables the vehicle on which the technology is installed to drive without active control or monitoring by a human operator.

(2) “Driver” means a human operator of a motor vehicle with a valid driver’s license.

(3) “Public roadway” means a street, road, or public thoroughfare that allows motor vehicles.

(4) “Traffic control device” means a traffic signal, traffic sign, electronic traffic sign, pavement marking, or other sign, device, or apparatus designed and installed to direct moving traffic.


(Apr. 23, 2013, D.C. Law 19-278, § 2, 60 DCR 2119.)


§ 50–2352. Autonomous vehicles permitted.

An autonomous vehicle may operate on a public roadway; provided, that the vehicle:

(1) Has a manual override feature that allows a driver to assume control of the autonomous vehicle at any time;

(2) Has a driver seated in the control seat of the vehicle while in operation who is prepared to take control of the autonomous vehicle at any moment; and

(3) Is capable of operating in compliance with the District’s applicable traffic laws and motor vehicle laws and traffic control devices.


(Apr. 23, 2013, D.C. Law 19-278, § 3, 60 DCR 2119.)


§ 50–2353. Vehicle conversion; limited liability of original manufacturer.

(a) The original manufacturer of a vehicle converted by a third party into an autonomous vehicle shall not be liable in any action resulting from a vehicle defect caused by the conversion of the vehicle, or by equipment installed by the converter, unless the alleged defect was present in the vehicle as originally manufactured.

(b) The conversion of vehicles to autonomous vehicles shall be limited to model years 2009 or later or vehicles built within 4 years of conversion, whichever vehicle is newer.


(Apr. 23, 2013, D.C. Law 19-278, § 4, 60 DCR 2119.)


§ 50–2353.01. Autonomous vehicles study.

By July 1, 2019, the District Department of Transportation, in consultation, as needed, with the Office of the Chief Financial Officer or other District agencies or organizations such as DC Surface Transit, shall make publicly available a study that evaluates and makes recommendations regarding the effects of autonomous vehicles on the District, including:

(1) The effect on the District's economy, including economic development and employment;

(2) The impact on the District government's revenue, including motor vehicle excise taxes, motor vehicle registration fees, motor vehicle fuel taxes, residential parking permit fees, parking meter revenue, fines and fees relating to moving infractions or parking, standing, stopping, and pedestrian infractions, and commercial parking taxes;

(3) The impact on the District's infrastructure, traffic control systems, road use, congestion, curbside management, and public space;

(4) The impact on the District's environment and public health;

(5) The impact on public safety in the District, including the safety of other road users such as pedestrians and bicyclists;

(6) The impact on the District's disability community;

(7) The impact on the various transportation modes in the District, including mass transit, shared-use vehicles, and public and private vehicles-for-hire; and

(8) The need for and use of autonomous vehicle data, including data from autonomous vehicle manufacturers and public and private vehicle-for-hire companies.


(Apr. 9, 1997, D.C. Law 19-278, § 4a; as added Oct. 30, 2018, D.C. Law 22-168, § 6112, 65 DCR 9388.)

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) creation of this section, see § 6102 of Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2018 (D.C. Act 22-458, Oct. 3, 2018, 65 DCR 11212).

For temporary (90 days) creation of this section, see § 6102 of Fiscal Year 2019 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2018 (D.C. Act 22-434, July 30, 2018, 65 DCR 8200).


§ 50–2354. Rules.

The Mayor, pursuant to subchapter I of Chapter 2 of Title 5 [§ 2-501 et seq.], shall issue rules on or before December 31, 2013, establishing a class of vehicles for autonomous vehicles and procedures and fees for the registration, titling, and issuance of permits to operate autonomous vehicles.


(Apr. 23, 2013, D.C. Law 19-278, § 5, 60 DCR 2119.)